Saturday, November 30, 2013

US Saber Rattling Diplomacy

US Saber Rattling Diplomacy

by Stephen Lendman

America seeks unchallenged global dominance. It practically claims a divine right. It's longstanding US policy. 

Its empire of bases enforces it. Saber rattling reflects it. In late November, China's Defense Ministry announced creation of an "air defense identification zone (ADIZ)."

They're not unusual. America, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan  have them. So do other countries.

China's covers portions of the East China Sea. It includes Beijing/Toyko disputed territory. More on that below.

On November 26, two Guam-based B-52 bombers overflew China's ADIZ. They did so provocatively. 

They're long range, high altitude strategic bombers. They're able to carry powerful payloads. 

They're built to launch nuclear weapons. There's no way to know for sure what they had on board.

Their mission reflected modern-day gunboat diplomacy. It's high-altitude intimidation. It's in-your-face goading. 

It's how Washington operates. It's rules alone apply. It's message is we're boss, and what we say goes. Diplomacy isn't America's long suit.

Pentagon officials claimed otherwise. Calling it a routine mission rang hollow. There was nothing whatever routine about it. 

It was belligerent. It challenged what Beijing calls sovereign territory. At issue is the Diao Yu Tai archipelago. It includes surrounding waters. China and Japan claim ownership.

Tokyo calls the main island Senkaku. For China, it's Diaoyu. Taiwan lays claim. Its name is Diaoyutai. China calls Taiwan sovereign Chinese territory.

Archipelago islands are uninhabited barren rocks. They comprise about 6.3 square km. They lie 120 nautical miles (nm) northeast of Taiwan.

They're 200 nm east of China's mainland. They're 200 nm southeast of Okinawa.

The dispute remains unresolved. America occupied the islands them from 1945 - 1972. Washington provocatively backs Japan. 

Doing so reflects longstanding policy. America aims to weaken China's growing economic, political and military strength.

Beijing calls Diaoyu island and adjacent islets inalienable Chinese land since ancient times. Japan's claim constitutes infringement, it claims.

In 1895, Tokyo seized the islands during the Sino-Japanese War. At end of WW II, China reasserted sovereign rights it calls lawful and indisputable.

Key may be what lies offshore. Substantial oil and gas deposits are sought by whichever country controls them. At the same, these type disputes can be resolved diplomatically.

Other issues are at stake. Geopolitics are in play. Washington asserts its Asia card. Closer ties with regional nations isolate and weaken China and Russia. 

Japan is a willing partner. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe aims to reassert Japanese militarism. Washington encourages it. Doing so is worrisome.

In late 2011, Obama announced his Asia pivot. At issue is reasserting America's Pacific presence. It's about advancing Washington's military footprint.

Checking Russia and China is planned. Containment is policy. Cold War politics is back. Muscle-flexing reflects it. So does global belligerence.

Obama's pivot escalated regional tensions. Strengthening America's regional presence advances its imperium. 

Doing so risks eventual confrontation. Washington has been rebalancing in East Asia for years. 

Strategy calls for strengthening military, economic, and political ties with Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, Singapore and Vietnam.

It involves undermining Chinese and Russian influence. It aims to isolate them. It seeks dominance of territory not its own. Imperial powers operate this way. US policy threatens world peace.

China said foreign aircraft overflying is ADIZ must notify Beijing. They must submit flight plans. They must indicate nationality. They must maintain radio contact. 

These type demands aren't unreasonable. They're not meant to be belligerent.

At the same time, emergency military measures may follow failure to comply. Notably if repeated incidents are provocative.

China prioritizes settling these type issues politically. It prefers diplomacy over confrontation. It downplayed Tuesday's incident.

Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren's comments were hostile, saying:

"We have conducted operations in the area of the Senkakus. We have continued to follow our normal procedures, which include not filing flight plans, not radioing ahead and not registering our frequencies."

Hegemons operate this way. Tuesday's provocation wasn't the first. It won't be the last.

Japan has its own ADIZ. It's extensive. It's provocative. Its northwestern portion lies close to China's border. It's close to its territorial waters. It risks triggering a future confrontation. Perhaps a more serious one.

Washington expressed full support for Japan. John Kerry calls China's ADIZ "an extremely dangerous act." He ignored Japan's encroachment. 

He said nothing about America's ADIZ. He represents US plans for regional control. He's Washington's diplomatic point man for global dominance.

Caroline Kennedy is JFK's daughter. She's America's recently appointed Japanese ambassador. She didn't do her father proud. She issued a statement, saying:

"Unilateral actions like those taken by China with their announcement of an East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone undermine security and constitute an attempt to change the status quo in the East China Sea. This only serves to increase tension in the region."

China Daily is the nation's largest English language broadsheet. Its harsh editorial reply headlined "Japan and US overreacting," saying:

"While Tokyo continues to play the thief crying 'stop the thief,' Washington is again barking up the wrong tree over China's announcement of the East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone."

"The Japanese and US hysteria is unnecessary, and potentially dangerous, because it is based on a serious misreading, if not intentional distortion, of Chinese strategic purposes."

"Dozens of countries, including Japan and the United States, have their own ADIZs." 

"And the US, as the inventor of such zones, should be well aware of their defensive nature."

China's "territorial integrity is under constant threat, and its military is generations behind the saber-rattling might of those who see it as a potential rival."

Military policy "has no intention to go beyond what are 'international common practices.' "

"The US did not consult others when it set up and redrew its ADIZs." 

"Japan never got the nod from China when it expanded its (own), which overlaps Chinese territories and exclusive economic zone." 

"Under what obligation is China supposed to seek Japanese and US consent in a matter of self-defense?"

Separately, China Daily said ADIZ policy excludes "normal" commercial airline flights. 

Standard international procedures require flight plans, proper identification, and radio contact. 

Commercial airliners operate this way. Nations have a right to know when aircraft plan overflying their territory. Passengers need assurance that all safety precautions were taken.

The US-Japan Security Treaty is longstanding. It dates from 1952. In 1960, it was amended. It states any attack on either country requires them to respond against the common danger.

It authorizes American military bases in Japan. Dozens are in Okinawa. It's Japan's most southerly prefecture. It's the poorest. It's called Japan's Puerto Rico. Washington takes full advantage.

Okinawans hate America's presence. They do so for good reason. US forces control about 20% of the island's choicest real estate. 

They're virtually immune from Japanese criminal prosecutions. Serious ones happen often. 

They include homicide, rape, assaults, robberies, drunken brawls, muggings, arson, reckless driving, and illicit drug use among others.

Noise and air pollution are intolerable. Hegemons don't say they're sorry. Japan permitted US excess since 1945. Okinawans endure longstanding US occupation with no redress.

America's regional presence is destabilizing. It escalates tensions. It risks use of force. China is justifiably concerned.

Japan, South Korea and other regional countries are close US allies. On November 28, Tokyo and Seoul overflew China's ADIZ. 

They did so provocatively. They ignored Beijing's requirement for flight plans, identification and radio contact.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) deployed fighter jets and an early warning aircraft. They patrolled the area. Beijing-based IHS Aerospace, Defense and Maritime analyst Gary Li doesn't believe it'll be extensive.

"I think it will be more of a case of China flying enough planes to make at point," he said. A 24-hour presence is overkill.

"It must be remembered that this is not a no-fly zone. China doesn't have to operate extensive patrols to make its presence felt," Li added.

Coastal radar will be used for routine coverage. Ships deployed at sea will supplement it. Aircraft will mostly be used for specific missions.

Military expert Xing Hongbo said Beijing has technical detection expertise.

"China has successfully identified those foreign aircraft, meaning that it has achieved early-warning through(out) the zone," he said.

"There is no reason for the US to blame China for establishing such a zone because Washington" did so first. It protects its airspace and ADIZ aggressively.

China's concern is self-defense. It prioritizes diplomacy over confrontations. It values friendly relations with neighbors. It does so globally. 

It's prepared to defend itself if necessary. It knows risks it faces. America's presence presents challenges. Its hostile intentions are worrisome.

Anything can happen when least expected. Repeated sparks create conflicts. Washington's history isn't pretty. It reflects false flags and other provocations.

They're an American tradition. They date from at least the mid-19th century. Wars followed. One leads to others. They persist without end.

China and Russia are America's main global rivals. Weakening them substantially smooths the way for unchallenged US dominance. 

Will Washington risk war to achieve it? America's rage for conflict, its formidable WMDs and delivery systems, as well as its longstanding imperial policy make anything possible. 

The unthinkable would be nuclear war. Can it happen? Hegemonic ambitions risk it.

Official US policy asserts the "right" to do whatever it wishes to counter alleged threats. Even if it means risking humanity's survival. It's very much up for grabs.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Provoking Iran

Provoking Iran

by Stephen Lendman

Observers call Geneva a "historic agreement." It remains to be seen. The proof of the pudding is in the implementation. 

It's whether Washington upholds its obligations. For sure Iran will. It has everything to gain by doing so. It has much to lose otherwise. 

Agreed on terms didn't end 34 years of US hostility. Longstanding sentiment hasn't changed.

America's imperial agenda remains firm. Its duplicitous history isn't encouraging. Dozens of treaties and deals were systematically violated. 

Trustworthiness isn't a US tradition. Obama is a serial liar. He broke every major promise made. Is Geneva different? It requires a giant leap of faith to say so. Perhaps it reflects naivete.

It remains to be seen what happens going forward. Some signs aren't encouraging. Israel is going all out to sabotage the deal. So is its US Lobby.

Congress is considering more sanctions. Right wing extremists infest the body. They're militantly anti-Iranian.

Rep. Michele Bachmann isn't atypical. Others think like she does. Iran "must be bombed," she said.

"It may be incumbent upon the Prime Minister (Netanyahu) to make a decision he has no desire to make, and that would be to bomb facilities, that must be bombed, in Iran."

Geneva harms Israeli security, claims Bachmann. "That decision that was made by the P5+1 in Geneva had more to do with Israel than it had to do with Iran,” she added. 

“Because, you see, the decision that was made could be the biggest cudgel that our president, and that the nations of the world, could use to prevent Israel from defending not only herself, but her right to exist."

Israel's "right to defend herself may possibly include the right to be able to bomb nuclear facilities and potential nuclear facilities in Iran."

Don't bet against it jointly happening with America. Not now. Perhaps later. Events going forward demand close scrutiny.

US agreements and public comments have no credibility. Actions alone matter. They reflect longstanding policies. They're belligerent. 

They target independent sovereign states. They want subservient pro-Western ones replacing them. Iran is America's top target. 

It's been that way for 34 years. Geneva changed nothing. Honest diplomacy isn't Washington's long suit. It bears repeating. America's imperial agenda remains unchanged.

A previous article quoted Professor Abbas Edalat. He founded the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII).

America won't regain Iranians' trust quickly, he stressed. Doing so requires recognizing its legitimate rights. Its ending all sanctions. It's treating Iran with respect.

"The West us(es) Iran's nuclear program as a pretext," said Edalat. It's "much like alleg(ing) (nonexistent WMDs) in Iraq."

It's "to demonize the Islamic Republic. (It) exert(s) pressure (to) isolate it internationally to pave the way for regime change."

Anti-Iranian sentiment is "manufactured by the US, UK France (and) Israel."

"The West mobilized all its political, economic, and military resources as well as its propaganda machine to force Iran to surrender its (legitimate) nuclear rights."

Despite crippling/lawless sanctions, Tehran resolutely defends them. America's imperial agenda is its greatest obstacle.

Following Geneva agreed on terms, Fars News published the full text. A previous article discussed them.

Iran's Foreign Ministry accused the White House of releasing an invalid press release. It's not an encouraging sign. According to FM spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham:

"What has been released by the website of the White House as a fact sheet is a one-sided interpretation of the agreed text in Geneva, and some of the explanations and words in the sheet contradict the text of the Joint Plan of Action, and this fact sheet has unfortunately been translated and released in the name of the Geneva agreement by certain media, which is not true."

Shortly after agreed on Geneva terms, the precise text was released. The White House press release modified it dupliciously. US media reported its version.

US/Israeli saber rattling is planned. On November 27, Time magazine reported it. "Israel and US to Hold Military Exercises When Iran Deal Ends," it headlined.

According to an anonymous "high-ranking Israeli officer:"

"The strategic decision is to continue to make noise." It'll come to a head in six months. It's when the interim agreement expires. It's renewable by mutual consent. It remains to be seen what happens.

"In May," said the Israeli source, "there's going to be a joint training exercise. It's going to be big."

"The wind from the Americans into the Israeli sails is, 'We will maintain our capability to strike in Iran, and one of the ways we show it is to train.' "

"It will send signals both to Israel and to the Iranians that we are maintaining our capabilities in the military option." 

"The atmosphere is we have to do it big time. We have to do a big show of capabilities and connections."

Washington and Israel hold lots of joint war games. They're strategically timed. They send messages to adversaries of both countries.

According to Time:

"(F)ull-throated US participation in a May 2014 joint exercise would stand in especially vivid contrast to what transpired in the last large joint exercise: Washington quietly scaled back its level of participation, amid fears that Israel was growing too bold."

Its threats to attack Iran unilaterally ring hollow. For now, diplomacy gets room to work. According to the anonymous Israeli source:

"The focus will be to gather intelligence in order to reveal a fraud, and not to (do it) for an attack."

"At the same time, Israel shows signs of working to rehabilitate the military option," said Time.

Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Securities (INSS) maintains close ties to Israel's government and military.

Many of its professionals have government and/or IDF backgrounds. Retired Major General Amos Yadlin heads INSS. Israel helps fund it. 

On October 3, it published a report titled "If Attacked, How Would Iran Respond?

It suggests the threat of major Iranian retaliation is exaggerated. It believes a regional war is unlikely. It may be wishful thinking on both counts.

Yadlin voiced qualified support for Geneva. Israel has time to explore options, he said. He was a pilot in June 1981. 

He was involved in destroying Iraq's Osirik nuclear reactor. It was under construction at the time. 

He believes Israel can strike Iranian nuclear facilities successfully. It can handle the blowback, he believes.

Yiftah Shapir is an INSS research fellow. Israeli plans to strike Iran are longstanding, he said.

"Many people have been working on this option for many, many years, and I don't think they can think of anything else," he stressed.

Israel has formidable weapons. It has nuclear, chemical and biological ones. It has long-range fighter-bombers and missiles. 

It has deep-penetrating bunker busters. It has other sophisticated US supplied weapons and technology. It developed its own. It has a longstanding history of belligerence. So does America.

Geneva temporarily constrains things. At issue is for how long? Washington and Israel deplore peace. They prioritize conflict and instability. It serves their mutual interests.

Current Netanyahu bluster is red meat for loyal constituents. Rhetoric lacks credibility. Actions alone matter. 

Israel and Washington have longstanding plans to attack Iran. They can be implemented straightaway if ordered. Not now. Maybe later.

Giving peace a chance isn't in the vocabulary of either country. How long diplomacy takes precedence bears close watching. 

Perhaps saber rattling will replace it next year. Maybe pretexts will be invented to do so. 

Longstanding US/Israeli anti-Iranian sentiment remains unchanged. Odds favor business as usual next year. Both countries must prove otherwise. Don't expect it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Massive Fraud, Intimidation, and Vote Buying in Honduras

Massive Fraud, Intimidation and Vote Buying in Honduras

by Stephen Lendman

On Sunday, November 24, Hondurans voted. Eight candidates contested for president. Only two mattered.

LIBRE party (Liberty and Refoundation) candidate Xiomara Castro challenged ruling National party's Juan Orlando Hernandez. A previous article explained.

It said business as usual prevailed. Fraud, intimidation and vote buying were rampant. So were political assassinations. Democracy was nowhere in sight.

Honduras has none. Fascist extremism is official policy. A cauldron of violence and repression persist. Washington offers full support. It does so disgracefully.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psake congratulated Honduras for a "peaceful" election. She lied saying so. She did again calling it "generally transparent."

She urged Hondurans "to resolved election disputes peacefully through established legal processes." Honduran rule of law principles don't exist. 

Fascist police states don't operate this way. They do what they please. They do it unaccountably. They steal elections with impunity. 

Sunday was no exception. Election rigging substituted for freedom, openness and fairness. They were nowhere in sight.

Independent observers denounced what happened. The Honduran Equality Delegation (HED) was comprised of US LGBT human rights activists.

They took a historic first step. They addressed dozens of Honduran hate crimes committed against LGBT activists. They include assassinations, beatings, humiliations, and numerous other human rights violations.

Honduras has the most homicides per capita worldwide. It's unsafe to live there. It's a breeding ground for human and civil rights violations.

Pepe Palacios heads the Honduran LGBT movement. He called Washington's supported 2009 coup ousting Manuel Zelaya "our Stonewall. We are not going back." 

Honduran Solidarity Network (HSN) observers denounced Sunday's results. It documented "serious and undeniable fraud in all 10 districts" it observed.

On November 26, it issued a preliminary report. It's based on firsthand observations. 

Its representatives accompanied Hondurans "in their electoral process as they seek social justice in their country."

"(W)e find the presidential elections to be inconsistent with democratic principles and rife with fraudulent practices," it said.

"We were impressed with the peaceful behavior of voters, and in particular the voting participation of youth and senior peoples, despite the widespread voter intimidation tactics we witnessed."

Numerous human rights violations occurred. Intimidation was rampant. So was vote buying.

Western media ignored what happened. Despite irrefutable evidence, international observer groups were silent. 

It was inexcusable. It reflected complicity with rampant fraud. Widespread human rights abuses weren't addressed. A stolen election went unreported.

The Carter Center fell woefully short. It sent a "high-level delegation." It didn't "constitute an electoral observation mission..."

It was "an expression of the international community's high interest in the 'democratic' process in Honduras." 

It bears repeating. There is none. Jimmy Carter and other Center officials know it. They went along with the charade.

They "thank(ed) the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) for inviting them." They "congratulate(d) the people of Honduras for their peaceful and enthusiastic participation in the elections."  

"It recognizes the effort of the Tribunal, the political parties, and the numerous national and international organizations that have supported the process and contributed to more inclusive and transparent elections than in the past."

"A number of parties have questioned one or more aspects of the process."  

"The delegation believes that it is very important that the parties make their complaints known to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal in accordance with the procedures established by electoral law." 

"It trusts that the Tribunal will resolve these challenges based on the established norms."

"It encourages all of the actors in the process to continue to work together to resolve electoral disputes in a peaceful and expedient manner for the good of the Honduran people and the newly elected officials."

"The Carter Center offers its support and collaboration to the people of Honduras to continue the strengthening of their political and electoral institutions."

These comments turn a blind eye to blatant electoral theft. Jimmy Carter justifiably calls Venezuela's electoral process the world's best.

Honduras' is without question one of the world's worst. Carter didn't explain. Sunday's voting wasn't an election. It was a sham. It mocked legitimacy.

It was a predetermined process. The outcome was decided in advance. It was enforced through massive fraud, intimidation, vote buying and cold-blooded murder.

Maria Amparo Pineda wore several hats. She was a Cooperativa el Carbon leader. She was a Central National de Trabajadores del Campo member.

She was LIBRE party's Cantarranas polling station president. On November 23, she was assassinated. She and Julio Ramon Araujo Maradiaga were murdered after leaving an electoral training session.

On election day morning, five Gracias a Dios department city of Lempira people were killed. State-controlled media called it narco-trafficking violence. Authorities closed the polling station. Voters were shut out.

HSN witnessed numerous major electoral irregularities. They included vote buying. Fascist National party representatives "bought smaller political parties' polling table credentials."

Many LiBRE supporters were prevented from voting. Others doing so got pre-marked ballots. They supported the National party.

Poll workers outside a Santa Rosa station were assaulted. Their credentials were stolen.

Masked men held 50 others captive in a Paraiso, Copan hotel. Independent observers got intimidating phone calls saying, "You're still in town? You better leave."

Transparency in vote counting was absent. HSN expressed concern that around 20% of LIBRA supporter ballots weren't counted.

Its observers faced intimidation and harassment. Sunday's result has no credibility whatever. What happened wasn't an election. It was predetermined selection.

Melissa Stiehler is HED's international coordinator. It was part of HSN's observation team. She expressed deep concern about what happened. Sunday reflected electoral theft writ large. 

A detailed report is planned. A snapshot of what went on was as follows:

Human rights abuses included election day anti-democratic events. Military forces surrounded national media transmitters.

Their presence nationwide was hugely intimidating. LIBRE party supporters were targeted. So was free expression.

Electoral violations were rampant. As explained above, many voters got pre-marked ballots. They had no choice.

Cash, food and other handouts bought votes. National party hacks took over polling stations. LIBRE supporters were shut out.

Ballots for registered dead voters were cast. Voting secrecy was denied. Inappropriate campaigning occurred.

Voting entrances were blocked. Underage girls wearing National party t-shirts handed out mock ballots.

Many voting stations opened late. Registered voter lists weren't present. Soldiers intimidated voters. They were deployed in disproportionately high numbers in LIBRE strongholds.

"The integrity and effectiveness of international election observation (was) severely compromised, said Stiehler." Detailed information will follow. One example reflects others.

An Olancho observer team "was followed by two vehicles without license plates immediately after leaving the polling station they were observing," Stiehler explained.

"After frantic and evasive driving from one of their accompaniers, the delegates succeeded in avoiding a confrontation."

At issue was intimidation. It was subverting democratic fairness. It was attempting to deny it entirely. On Sunday, it was nowhere in sight.

US ambassador Lisa Kubiske acted inappropriately. Despite numerous electoral irregularities, she "recognize(d) the announced results." She urged respecting the outcome before half the votes were counted.

She falsely claimed legal mechanisms exist to challenge results. Honduras has none. Rampant fraud and other irregularities can't be contested.

Stiehler expressed great concern going forward. She fears more severe human rights abuses. She denounced America's role, adding:

"I don’t think I'm speaking out of turn in saying that the US is well aware of the violations that are happening here in Honduras." 

"Despite the Leahy Law (and others prohibiting assistance to governments committing human rights abuses), the US continues to support and aid in increasing militarization in Honduras." 

"It is also not off to say that the US had (its dirty) hand in this election." 

"We believe that the only thing that will change US actions and narratives about this fraud and the massive human rights violations will be pressure, pressure, and more pressure from people like us."

The National Lawyers Groups sent a 17-member delegation to Honduras. On November 25, they issued the following statement:

"Honduras has a flawed electoral system with many deficiencies including control of the process by political parties, unregulated and undisclosed campaign financing, and inadequate resources, training and voting facilities that disadvantage poor communities."  

"In addition Honduran electoral law provides for no run-off election." 

"Without a runoff election in which a majority of voters choose leadership, the electoral aspirations of two-thirds of Honduran voters who voted for change, are frustrated, and the winner of a mere plurality is denied a real mandate."

On November 25, the Center for Constitutional Rights headlined "Don't Rush to Recognize Honduran Election 'Winner' Human Rights Group Says."

"Yesterday’s election in Honduras and subsequent statements by the US Ambassador characterizing the election as 'transparent' and accompanied by only few acts of violence are reminiscent of the 2009 election, where the US rushed to validate and help push forward a process as it was being contested by Honduran civil society." 

"There must be an opportunity to do a full and accurate count and fully investigate reports of irregularities and intimidation and threats by authorities."

"Given the context of widespread opposition to the post-coup government and its violent repression of civil society, CCR urges the international community to do everything possible to ensure respect for and protection of Hondurans’ right to free expression, freedom of the press, and peaceful assembly in the coming days."

Days before Sunday's election, Honduran Solidarity Network (HSN) and Alliance for Global Justice (AGJ) delegates were temporarily blocked from visiting a group of campesinos. They're victims of state-sponsored terrorism.

HSN and AGJ delegates were warned to go back. They were threatened. They were told they would "never leave" the area otherwise. 

They ignored the threats. They pushed on by foot. They did so "nervously." They spent the night. They survived OK. They were lucky.

Honduran immigration agents targeted their Progreso delegations. They were harassed and threatened. They had to cancel planned training exercises. They could have been arrested or worse.

German, Salvadoran, Brazilian and other observers were treated the same way. Police states operate this way.

HSN added the following:

"The aforementioned observations made by HSN delegates were made in good faith by people who voluntarily served as witnesses to the entire electoral process."  

"Given the extensive list of threats and violence before and during the election, and given the hourly revelations of discrepancies in the data on the vote tallies (Acts), and considering the fact that 20% of the votes are held by the TSE (Supreme Electoral Tribunal), the Honduras Solidarity Network cannot and will not in good conscience join in the rubber stamp endorsement of the results as they have been announced by the TSE."

"We continue to stand with the Honduran people in defense of their human rights and of their struggle to build a Honduras that provides a better life for everyone."

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Hunger in America

Hunger in America

by Stephen Lendman

It's hard giving thanks when you're hungry. It's harder living in the world's richest country. It's harder still knowing government officials don't care. It's hardest of all wondering how you'll get by. 

More below on growing hunger and deprivation. It's increasing in America at a time trillions of dollars go for warmaking, corporate handouts, and other benefits for rich elites.

Giving thanks predated the republic. In 1621, Plymouth Pilgrims did so. They had nothing to do with originating the idea.

Native Americans did. They gave thanks for annual fall harvests. They did it centuries before settlers arrived.

On November 26, 1789, George Washington proclaimed the first national thanksgiving day.

He called it "a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God."

In 1863, Lincoln used the occasion to boost Union Army morale and patriotic fervor.

He "invite(d) (his) fellow citizens to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens."

He "fervently implore(d) the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of he nation and to restore it to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union."

He didn't live long enough to see it. Government officials today exploit Thanksgiving. They promote the illusion of US exceptionalism, moral and cultural superiority.

Social inequality, moral degeneration, and police state lawlessness reflect today's reality. Constitutional rights don't matter. 

War on humanity persists. Corporate crooks go unpunished. Democracy is a convenient illusion. Powerful monied interests run things. 

Ordinary people are hugely deprived. Growing needs go unaddressed. Government officials able to make a difference don't care.

Thanksgiving has many disturbing ironies. Presidents annually issue a "pardon." It spares a preselected turkey's life. It does so by proclamation. This year two were spared. 

It's unclear precisely when the tradition began. Lincoln did so. Thanksgiving day 1963 was November 28. Kennedy was assassinated six days earlier. Before his death, he let one turkey live. "We'll just let this one grow," he said.

Nixon began sending turkeys to a petting farm near Washington. He did so after a White House photo-op ceremony. No formal pardon was given.

GHW Bush was the first president to do it. On November 14, 1989, he said a preselected turkey was "granted a presidential pardon as of right now."

Obama issued annual presidential pardons. On Wednesday, he spared two turkeys. 

"The office of the presidency, the most powerful position in the world, brings with it many awesome and solemn responsibilities," he said. "This is not one of them."

"Tomorrow, as we gather with our own friends and family, we'll count ourselves lucky that there's more to be thankful for than we can ever say and more to be hopeful for than we can ever imagine."

A November 27 White House press release said in part:

"On Wednesday, November 27, 2013, President Obama will pardon the National Thanksgiving Turkey in a ceremony on the North Portico."  

"The President will celebrate the 66th anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation, reflect upon the time-honored traditions of Thanksgiving, and wish American families a warm, safe, and healthy holiday."

"After the pardoning, the turkeys will be driven to George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens."  

"The National Thanksgiving Turkey will be on display for visitors during 'Christmas at Mount Vernon,' a traditional program through January 6."  

"The turkeys will then travel to their permanent home at Morven Park’s Turkey Hill, the historic turkey farm located at the home of former Virginia Governor Westmoreland Davis (1918-1922) in Leesburg, Virginia."

Jaindl's Turkey Farm in Orefield, Pennsylvania, gave President Obama's family two dressed turkeys that will be donated to a local area food bank."

They need much more than that nationwide. Hunger in America is real. Millions are affected. 

Official numbers understate a growing crisis. Congress ignores it. Food stamps were cut when they're most needed. Further cuts are planned.

On December 31, millions will lose extended unemployment benefits unless Congress renews them. Both parties show little inclination to do so. Bipartisan complicity reflects indifference.

On July 28, AP headlined "Exclusive: Signs of Declining Economic Security," saying:

"Four out of 5 US adults struggle with joblessness, near poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives."

It's a disturbing "sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream."

"Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized US economy, the widening gap between rich and poor, and loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend."

Government data fall short of explaining things. Conditions are much worse than official reports. 

Most Americans struggle to get by. Impoverishment or close to it affects them. So do millions experiencing hunger.

Franklin Roosevelt instituted the first Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It began in May 1939. In 1941, he pledged freedom from want.

On January 11, 1944, he delivered his last State of the Union address. He proposed a second bill of rights.

"This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights," he said.

"They were our rights to life and liberty."

"As our nation has grown in size and stature, however - as our industrial economy expanded - these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness."

His solution was "economic bill of rights." He wanted one guaranteeing:

  • employment with a living wage;

  • freedom from unfair competition and monopolies;

  • housing;

  • medical care;

  • education; and

  • social security. 

Imagine if he'd lived long enough to implement it. Imagine this type America today. Hunger, homelessness, unemployment and poverty wouldn't be major problems.

State-sponsored class war exacerbates them. Growing millions need help. They face increasing hardships. 

Force-fed austerity harms America's most disadvantaged. Their numbers are far greater than most people think. 

Half of US households are impoverished or bordering it. Growing millions struggle to get by. They haven't enough to live on.

Most households with one or more workers live from paycheck to paycheck. They have little or no savings. 

They're one missed pay day away from being unable to handle daily expenses. They risk hunger, homelessness and deep poverty.

They live in the world's richest country. It spurns its most disadvantaged. Doing so swells their numbers. They suffer out of sight and mind.

Banks, other corporate favorites and super-rich elites are disproportionately favored. America was never beautiful. It's less so than ever today. It's dark side reflects reality.

Obama is no Roosevelt. He's polar opposite. Anti-populism defines his agenda. Transferring America's wealth to its most well-off is official policy. 

He wants vital New Deal/Great Society programs eliminated. He wants them privatized en route to doing so.

Throughout his tenure, he instituted numerous social benefit cuts. He's got more in mind. He's heading America toward third world status. He lies claiming otherwise.

Hungry Americans don't matter. Half or more are children. Many attending schools with hot breakfasts or lunches may get their only decent daily meal.

Most households receiving food stamps have at least one employed member. According to the Food Journal, they "typically include a child, elderly person or a disable person, and a gross income of $744 a month."

Average rents nationwide exceed $1,200 monthly. A tiny upscale Kansas City, MO 800 square-foot one bedroom apartment costs about $1,000 a month.

Median rents in America's least expensive cities range from $623 to $730 on average. It's a far cry from much cheaper earlier times.

Households earning $700+ a month struggle from day to day to get by. They need help doing so. Washington provides increasingly less during hard times. 

Republicans and Democrats don't give a damn. Today's America is a let 'em eat cake society. 

Growing millions are on their own sink or swim. Protracted Main Street Depression era conditions persist. Things are getting worse, not better.

Thanksgiving is no time for celebration. Not when hunger reflects daily reality for millions. It's been this way for years. Major media editors largely ignore it.

On November 25, 2009, a New York Times editorial headlined, "A Thanksgiving Toast," saying:

"Sitting down with friends and family today, there will be thanks for the steady currents, flowing out of the past, that have brought us to this table....And there will be prayerful thanks for the future."

In November 2010, dismissive Washington Post editors headlined "Thanksgiving's unchanging appeal," saying:

We're "fortunate to be alive and fed and sheltered, and the proper response to our good fortune is not self-satisfaction but gratitude."

Fact check

Poverty, homelessness and hunger are at Depression era levels. Feeding America (FA) is Chicago-based. It calls itself the nation's "leading domestic hunger-relief charity."

It serves the needy "through a nationwide network of member food banks."

In February 2010, it issued a report titled "Hunger in America 2010." In 2014, it plans updating it. Conditions now are much worse. 

They were bad enough then. About 5.7 million Americans needed emergency food aid. It was over one-fourth more than in 2005.

It said one in eight Americans are food insecure. Around 14 million children were affected. It's about 16 million now. They don't get enough food to eat.

FA calls food insecurity "a complex, multifaceted phenomenon that varies along a continuum of successive stages as it becomes more severe." 

Food secure households lets them "access...enough food for an active, health life."

"(T)he existence of so many people without secure access to adequate nutritious food represents a serious national concern."

"More than one in three client households are experiencing very low food security - or hunger - a 54 percent increase" compared to data FA compiled in a 2006 report.

At the time, former FA CEO Vicki Escarra said:

"Clearly, the economic recession, resulting in dramatically increasing unemployment nationwide, has driven unprecedented, sharp increases in the need for emergency food assistance and enrollment in federal nutrition programs." 

"Hunger in America 2010 exposes the absolutely tragic reality of just how many people in our nation don't have enough to eat." 

"Millions of our clients are families with children finding themselves in need of food assistance for the very first time." 

"It's morally reprehensible that we live in the wealthiest nation in the world where one in six people are struggling to make choices between food and other basic services."

On November 27, FA's CEO Bob Aiken said in part:

"With the holiday season here and with many of us sitting down to a table full of food this Thanksgiving, it's hard not to reflect on the 49 million people in our country who struggle with hunger."  

"And it's especially hard not to think of those families who earlier this month saw their SNAP benefits cut, further straining their food budgets."

"We've seen throughout our network of food banks the impact that these cuts are already beginning to have - with longer lines and an anticipated growth in need." 

"Our food banks are stretched and charity alone can't make up for this cut to federal assistance." 

"And with the possibility of further cuts to the program via the farm bill, there is real concern that the need for food will not be met."

"(W)e know hunger isn't seasonal - it's a year-round problem. It's our job to make sure that we shine a light on this issue all year, not just around the holidays."

In 2012, FA said 49 million Americans were food insecure. It affected 17.6 million households.

About seven million households experienced "very low food security." Households with children reported "a significantly higher rate than those without children, 20 percent compared to 11.0 percent."

Food insecurity persists across America. It's in every county. It ranges from 2.4% in Slope County, ND to 35.2% in Holmes County, MS.

America's national average is 14.7%. Ten states are significantly higher:

Mississippi: 20.9%

Arkansas: 19.7%

Texas: 18.4%

Alabama: 17.9%

North Carolina: 17%

Georgia: 16.9%

Missouri: 16.7%

Nevada: 16.6%

Ohio: 16.1%

California: 15.6%

Hunger in the world's richest country is intolerable. It's unconscionable. It persists. It's worsening. It's the shame of an uncaring nation.

Families without enough to eat aren't celebrating. They're struggling to find enough food to survive. Bipartisan complicity ignores them.

Anti-populism is official policy. Harder than ever hard times persist. Failure to address it reflects America's dark side. 

Equity and justice aren't in its vocabulary. It bears repeating. Today's America is a let 'em eat cake society. Hard times keep getting harder.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Israeli Police State Lawlessness

Israeli Police State Lawlessness

by Stephen Lendman

Multiple daily incidents reflect Israel's true face. Israel is no democracy. It's a ruthless, racist police state.

On November 26, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) headlined "In 2 Crimes of Extra-judicial Execution and Excessive Use of Force, Israeli Forces Kill 3 Palestinian Civilians in Yatta, South of Hebron."

These type incidents happen with disturbing regularity. Western media ignore them. PCHR strongly condemned what it called further proof of "Israeli forces' disregard for" civilian lives.

Two nonviolent Palestinian civilians were targeted north of Yatta. They posed no threat. They were driving a white Subaru.

They were traveling along a dirt road. A Renault Kangoo vehicle followed them.

"The Subaru was about to reach (a) bypass road where an Israeli infantry unit had been deployed in the farmlands around," said PCHR. 

"Israeli soldiers directly opened fire at the vehicle, and in the meantime, other soldiers opened fire from the Renault vehicle as well."

Two Palestinians died from multiple gunshot wounds. They were struck in the chest, head, neck and pelvis.

"Half an hour later Israeli forces killed (another nonviolent) Palestinian south of Hebron."

They surrounded his house. They opened fire. They did so for several minutes. They used an explosive device to blow open his door. They shot at a by-passer. 

These crimes reflect cold-blooded murder. Israel commits them with impunity. Under Fourth Geneva's Article 147, they constitute war crimes. Prosecutions don't follow. Palestinian lives don't matter.

On November 27, Al Haq published a report titled "Institutionalized Impunity: Israel's Failure to Combat Settler Violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory."

It's longstanding. It rages out-of-control. Israeli security forces do nothing to stop it. Settlers are free to terrorize Palestinians with impunity. They take full advantage.

Al Haq director Shawan Jabarin said these type attacks are systematic. They're commonplace. They're institutionalized. Israeli policy encourages them.

"The obligation of Israeli authorities is to protect Palestinians under occupation," said Jabarin. 

"They are not. They are closing their eyes and facilitating the violence against Palestinians."

Third party states are obligated to intervene. They're mandated "to combat organized crime by ensuring that support, financial or otherwise, is not being lent to violent settler groups by private and public entities within their jurisdiction."

"It is time for action against these groups and the settlers in general, as well as the leaders, such as settler councils." 

Settlers regularly target Palestinian farmers. They destroy hundreds of olive trees monthly. They commit arson and other types of vandalism. They terrorize Palestinian children.

Violence includes "price tag" attacks. Settlers use the term to describe retaliations relating to Israeli government actions limiting their political goals.

In the last decade, thousands of incidents occurred. Palestinian Authority security forces do virtually nothing to stop them. They're complicit in enforcing Israeli policy.

Ordinary Palestinians live in a virtual war zone. They're on their own to survive. Al Haq called Price Tag attacks intense and severe.

Many forced Palestinians from their land. It's done to support settlement construction. According to Jabarin:

"Price Tag attacks have allowed settler groups to successfully mobilize a public campaign advocating for the use of physical violence against Palestinians."

"Israel's legislative and administrative regime in the West Bank, coupled with its institutional unwillingness to prosecute offending settlers, has created a climate of impunity allowing such violence against the Palestinian population to intensify."

Extremist settlers get active support from Israeli educational, social and religious state institutions. Israel's government provides its own.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 2011 settler attacks increased by about one-third year-over-year.

They were over 140% greater than in 2010. In 2011, settlers destroyed or damaged 10,000 olive trees. At the same time, dozens of Palestinian families were displaced.

Israeli authorities turn a blind eye to most complaints. Investigations, when conducted, are whitewashed. 

Settlers are free to terrorize Palestinians with impunity. They take full advantage. They get plenty of help.

On September 11, 2011, Haaretz headlined "French JDL (Jewish Defense League) recruiting Jews with military experience to 'defend' Israeli settlements."

The French JDL group is an offshoot of Meir Kanane's racist Kach party. Israel banned it in 1988. It called it a "threat to national security." It's banned in America. France tolerates it.

Haaretz cited its spokesman Amnon Cohen. He explained a mission planned for late September 2011. Five groups of 11 people each were involved. They operated in different Israeli settlements.

Unidentified French donors defrayed all costs. Participants included men and women. They ranged from age 23 to 34. They all had military training. It was a prerequisite.

According to Cohen, JDL's mission wasn't to "provoke the Arabs." It was to "be on hand in case the settlements nee(ed) (help in case) Arabs attack(ed) at this precarious time."

Suggesting it was ludicrous. Palestinians don't attack settlements. They're vulnerable to regular settler attacks. They're blamed for defending themselves.

JDL is a violence, racist group. Its West Bank presence is provocative. It has nothing to do with protection. It's about terrorizing Palestinians lawlessly. France offers tacit support. 

In November 2004,Yasser Arafat died in a Paris hospital. He was poisoned. Israel killed him. Before his death, JDL extremists publicly chanted: "Arafat, bastard, the Jews will have your skin."

Cohen said JDL's organizing efforts went smoothly. Things were coordinated with designated settlements. Everything was arranged in advance.

Palestinians face ongoing terror. Its internal and imported from abroad. World leaders able to help turn a blind eye. Millions of Palestinians are on their own to survive.

Thursday was like most other days. Israeli soldiers invaded multiple Palestinian communities. Eight nonviolent West Bank civilians were kidnapped. So were three others in Gaza. 

Israel attacks injured many others. Settlers uprooted dozens of olive trees. The previous week they destroyed over 100.

Since June 1967, Israeli soldiers and settlers destroyed nearly one million olive trees. The extent of state-sponsored vandalism accompanied by violence is shocking. It continues day-to-day without end.

On November 24, extremist Israeli settlers desecrated the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. They did it many times before. Police do nothing to stop them. Failure to act reflects complicity.

On November 28, dozens of extremist Israelis entered the mosque's compound. They did so provocatively. Police escorted them.

They performed religious rights under armed guard where they're not welcome. Sheikh Azzam al-Khatib heads Islamist endowment and mosque affairs.

He denounced the incident. He called it a raid. He said the Al-Aqsa compound situation deteriorates daily. 

Israeli authorities want control where they don't belong. Al-Aqsa is Islam's third holiest site. Invading it is entirely provocative. At times, violence follows. Palestinians are blamed for Israeli crimes.

In early November, Knesset members considered letting Jews pray provocatively on the mosque's compound. Israeli deputy religious affairs minister Eli Ben-Dahan supports doing so.

Al-Aqsa is in East Jerusalem. It's internationally recognized as occupied Palestinian territory. Israel considers Jerusalem its exclusive capital. Confrontations occur often.

On September 28, 2000, former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon provocatively entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Around 1,000 security forces accompanied him. 

The second Intifada followed. Thousands of Palestinians were killed. Many thousands more were injured. 

Perhaps Israel plans recreating what happened. Lawlessness reflects official policy. Palestinians are persecuted ruthlessly. 

Security forces terrorize them. So do extremist settlers. They're on their own to survive.

A Final Comment

Israel's government is its most extreme ever. On November 17, Knesset members approved a draconian anti-infiltration measure. 

It oppressively targets asylum seekers. It's an amendment to the Law to Prevent Infiltration. Human rights groups denounced it.

It calls for one year imprisonment. It subjects legitimate asylum seekers to forced Negev detention. The new measure is even more draconian than an earlier version.

In September, Israel's High Court unanimously overturned it. Knesset members want the new measure enacted swiftly.

Around 2,000 men, women and children are being held in harsh detention. Their fundamental rights are denied.

According to Citizenship and Residency Program director Oded Feller, imprisoning asylum seekers ignores a Supreme Court ruling.

"Nine justices (unanimously) reasoned that the provision is illegal because it violates the right of freedom. Imprisonment under these circumstances, whether for one year or three, is prohibited."

Israel systematically violates international law. It ignores its own High Court rulings. It does what it wants. It does so with impunity.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein endorsed a new bill. It compromises free expression. It surfaced before. In 2011, the Public Defender's Office introduced the idea. Harsh public criticism killed it.

It's nicknamed the "concealment law." It prohibits publicizing information about a criminal investigation. 

It does so even if it doesn't compromise the privacy of people being investigated. It especially targets journalists.

Weinstein and Justice Ministry officials want publication of diaries, medical, and financial information prohibited. The Privacy Protection Law currently protects this type material.

Invasion of privacy criminal and civil prosecutions are permitted. Israel wants the Courts Law amended. Why it must explain.

At risk is compromising free expression. Authorities want legitimate criticism prohibited. It wants it during ongoing investigations. It wants it after cases in question are concluded.

If enacted, it'll violate Weinstein's pronouncement that "the public will read and judge." It'll compromise fundamental press freedom.

It'll deny the public access to information it has a right to know. How will people know if their government acted lawfully or otherwise?

How will they be able to judge the legitimacy of prosecutions? How will unfairly targeted people be able to defend themselves in the court of public opinion?

No Israeli law enshrines free expression. It's a fundamental right. At stake is free, fair, unbiased news and information coverage. So is concealing crimes committed by public officials.

Sunshine is the best disinfectant. Truth is the ally of justice. It's the enemy of lawlessness. It's essential in free societies.

In summer 2011, Israel enacted an anti-boycott measure. Critics called it outrageous, shameless and anti-democratic.

It criminalizing boycott supporters. Persons or groups targeted can sue without having to prove harm caused.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) called the measure "one of the most concerning (ever) anti-democratic propositions."

At issue is boycotting Israeli products, persons and activities connected with Occupied Palestine and settlements. Enactment was politically motivated. Section 2 stipulates:

"It is prohibited to initiate a boycott of the state of Israel, to encourage participation in a boycott, or to provide assistance or information with the purpose of promoting a boycott."

Individuals or groups accused of doing so face criminal and/or civil prosecutions.

Police states operate this way. Israel violates numerous civil and human rights. It wants them compromised or eliminated. 

Occupied Palestinians have no rights. Israeli Arabs have few. Jews too critical of government policies risk trouble.

Boycotts are a legitimate right. So is press freedom and other free expression forms.

Criminalizing them is unprecedented in democracies. Protecting opposition opinions is fundamental in legitimate ones.

Israel more than ever is a lawless police state. America operates the same way.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.